Manga Studio Custom Tools

I’ll probably have multiple posts dealing with multiple aspects of Manga Studio, both the advantages and shortcomings. This is the first in that series…

I’ve never really bothered using custom tools in any other art package, preferring to use, simply, the keyboard shortcuts. But my current drawing setup sees my Cintiq (a 12″ one) separated by quite a distance from the keyboard – the Cintiq is on my drawing board, the keyboard is on the computer keyboard.

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So, suddenly, I find myself using toolbars a great deal more. (As an aside, I’ve also tried using my iPhone as a virtual keyboard, and while it works, it’s slightly frustrating to have to wake it every time I need to undo something).

Custom Tools, finally comes into its own – Here’s the current custom tool sets I have setup. MS allows you to set up multiple custom tools, so I’ve setup “Pens”, “Transform” and “Rulers”.

Pens – or, rather, “Most Commonly Used Tools” includes the following:
Undo – Obviously, I never need it (much… er…)
Save – which means it’s a one-click button to save the file, essential when you’re moving out of the physical world and into the digital
Cut, Copy, Past – all clipboard options. Though used rarely (unless I’ve done something stupid, like inked onto the wrong layer)
Clear Selection – this is the CTRL-D command (more commonly called ‘Deselection’ – hence the CTRL-D shortcut)

And then, the tools:
G pen – I have this set up as a nice, thick pen – acting much more like a brush – though has a weird tendency to digitally ‘blob’ – I suspect that a processor speed issue.
Kaburu – nice, thin pen – very like a a fineliner, except it never really gets rubbish. Typically set up as .4mm/.5mm
Eraser – I can flip the pen and rub things out, but I actually find it quicker to select this tool and erase using the pen.
Fill – ah, fill, it’s fast, accurate and completely unsatisfying compared to inking a big black area on a page. But it’s fast. (Also: no more smearing or waiting on ink drying).
Laso – The Laso selection tool, great for cutting out masks that you can then ink within – giving nice sharp inking and allowing great big sweeps of the arm to do it.

Transform / Rulers.

Unfortunately, there are some obvious shortcomings – the most obvious of which is that the Transform Tools are all called “Move and Transform…” – actually, they’re not, they’re, variously, called “Move and Transform: Scale”, “Move and Transform: Distort”, etc. Unfortunately, the Custom Tools button width is fixed, which means all of those names are rendered indistinct from one another. This same problem effects Rulers – “New Special Ruler” is the only text you’ll see here.

Similarly, though, less obvious, the custom tools for pens – while they’re colour coded, are simply ways of selecting between the different pens – you can’t, for example, set up multiple pen tools with multiple widths.
I’m hoping, in a later version, they’ll allow the user to either customise the button text – or simply remove the “Move and Transform:” text from the option, so they become the much more sensible “Scale”,”Distort”, etc. (ditto for rulers: no real need for “New Special Ruler”).

Also, with a bit of luck, they’ll allow better customisation of the drawing tools on the Custom Menu, setting up various sized pens at your fingertips.

Have you set up custom tools? Let me know what’s working for you…

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.